It's been almost a year and a half since the last
newsletter, and you'd be forgiven for thinking that I'd fallen off the face of
the earth, or simply lost interest in our ancestors ... I'm glad to report that
neither are true!
I plead various excuses involving work, family
upheavals and the simple fact that new information comes through much more
slowly once the easy sources have been exhausted.
In this issue:
- New subscribers to the newsletter
- South African Gurrs!
- A new, simpler family tree
- Picture of "The Agincourt" ... almost
- Pictures of Melbourne
- Picture of Chatham, 1793
- Will of John Gurr of Chatham, 1828
New subscribers to the
Sheila Jaynes Gurr
Sheila is a descendant of a William
Gurr, born in Kent but who moved to Chicago, Illinois sometime between 1843
Simon lives in Bristol but comes from
Sussex Gurr stock.
David is from the New Zealand line of Gurrs,
but now lives in Brighton.
Janet is the granddaughter of Henry John Gurr, who emigrated to South
Africa in the early 1900s - more below!
Lynda is a great-granddaughter of Thomas Blown Collins Gurr of Leicester.
She now lives in Canada.
South African Gurrs!
In September last year, I had an email out of the blue from Janet
Weldhagen. She'd just started researching her family history, and had put the
word "Gurr" into a search engine to see what came up on her mother's lineage,
and so found my site.
The "Gurr Family Centennial Booklet" produced in New Zealand had mentioned
in passing that Henry John Gurr, son of William Gurr of Lamberhurst had gone to
South Africa, but I'd drawn a blank on tracing him.
It turns out that Henry was Janet's grandfather. Although the Gurr name has
died out, it's nice to know that many of his descendants are still in South
Africa! Several of them have emigrated to Australia, one to
A new, simpler family tree
Many folks have told me that whilst the Family Tree section of the website
is great for its detail and coverage, it's difficult to place yourself and to
visualise the relationships with some of our key ancestors.
I've made some feeble attempts in the past to try and create a graphical
representation of the tree, but it quickly became apparent to me that once you
get past three or four generations you need an extremely wide screen or sheet of
paper to create it on!
I've made another attempt, and it seems a little more useful. This
is a partial tree
, showing only those ancestors who are of
particular significance, descending from John & Elizabeth Gurr (née Lester)
of Chatham (all the living Gurrs I've found descend from these two). In
particular, it shows the progenitors of each of the main geographical groups of
Gurrs in our tree - USA, New Zealand, Leicester, South Africa. Down the
left-hand column it shows the Gurrs who remained in Chatham and who continued to
run a butcher's business there until the 1950s. It also shows the Gurrs who
remained in Lamberhurst, and who are believed to still have descendants living
in the area surrounding Tonbridge Wells.
I hope this helps you place your own section of the Gurr family in
Picture of "The Agincourt"
I was particularly interested in tracking down an image of "The Agincourt",
the ship on which George Gurr
(together with his new wife Mary Ann and his brother Edward) travelled to
Melbourne in 1860.
What Nick managed to trace was not a picture of "The Agincourt", but almost
... a picture of her sister ship "The Seringapatam", on which "The Agincourt"
A model of "The Seringapatam" without sails or rigging is displayed
at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, but Nick also found a picture
in a book on the Blackwall frigates, of which "The Agincourt" and "The
Seringapatam" were but two.
Pictures of Melbourne
In March 2002, Roger Gurr (grandson of Charles Collins Gurr of Leicester)
visited Australia. Whilst there, he managed to visit Melbourne and take some
pictures of the streets in Melbourne where George Gurr
was known to have lived:
Picture of Chatham, 1793
In order to get a more complete view of the key locations in our
ancestors' lives, I've been trying to trace relevant contemporary pictures.
The latest of these is an
engraving of Chatham in 1793
, showing the naval dockyard in the foreground,
several naval ships, and the town of Chatham in the distance.
To place this in context, refer to the partial family tree above ... this
is the Chatham of William & Mary Gurr (née Wall), Mary being the first
recorded proprietor of the Gurr's butchers business in Chatham.
The HMS Victory (Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar) had been
built in Chatham in 1765. England had lost the American War of Independence just
10 years previously. The Industrial Revolution was well under way, generating
huge increases in wealth for the already wealthy (and more poverty and squalor
for those already poor). The French Revolution had begun just four years ago
seriously rattling the English establishment (who feared revolution at home) and
it was in this year England declared war on Revolutionary France as it
prepared to invade Holland.
Chatham Dockyard would have been a hive of activity in this period as the
demand for warships rose with the new war against France.
Will of John Gurr